Monday October 18, 2021

Ex-French bishop to stand trial

June 29, 2018

ORLEANS, France: The former bishop of the French city of Orleans, Andre Fort, was ordered on Thursday to stand trial for failing to report a paedophile priest in his diocese.

Fort, who was bishop of the northern city between 2002 and his retirement in 2010, was charged last June over allegations that he turned a blind eye to child abuse by priest Pierre de Castelet.

Fort had moved de Castelet into roles where he did not have contact with children, but did not inform the police about accusations by a man who said he and others had been abused by the priest as a child.

"My client thought this young man did not want his accusations to be made public, but that he just wanted to make sure Pierre de Castelet had no more contact with children," Fort’s lawyer Benoit de Gaullier told AFP.

He added that Fort "acknowledges that he is to face trial, and he will explain himself". De Castelet is accused of abuse dating back to 1993 when he served as chaplain at a camp for young Christians and was charged in 2012. He also worked as a chaplain for the European Scouts movement.

His accuser, Olivier Savignac, said he had reported the priest to Fort personally in 2010, saying he believed de Castelet could have abused around 10 other children. It was Fort’s successor Jacques Blaquart who reported de Castelet to authorities after Savignac contacted him in 2011.

Fort is not the first French bishop to be charged with failing to report paedophilia. In 2001, Bayeux bishop Pierre Pican was given a three-month suspended jail sentence for a similar offence.